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Homeland Security to Collect Social Media Data on All Immigrants Including Naturalized US Citizens

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Invasion of Privacy?

A new rule due to be implemented on October 18 by the Department of Homeland Security which allows DHS to collect complete social media information on all immigrants has privacy and civil libertarian advocacy groups alarmed. The rule goes beyond would-be visitors to the U.S. and would also apply to those who have already obtained a green card or gone through the naturalization process.

The rule also directly impacts U.S. citizens who communicate with immigrants on social media by making their conversations the subject of government surveillance according to Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Speaking with a journalist from Buzzfeed Monday, Schwartz said, “We see this as part of a larger process of high tech surveillance of immigrants and more and more people being subjected to social media screening. There’s a growing trend at the Department of Homeland Security to be snooping on the social media of immigrants and foreigners and we think it’s an invasion of privacy and deters freedom of speech.”

One immigrant rights advocate who declined to be identified labeled the new rule as “one more step on the way to the slippery slope by the U.S. government in abrogating its constitutional mandate to uphold the rights and civil liberties of Americans.”  Calling it an unprecedented move, the advocate told NCRM, “Blanket social media screening of permanent residents and naturalized citizens is a clear invasion of privacy and violates peoples’ freedom of speech and expression. This rule suggests an attempt to both limit immigration and silence political dissent among those who strongly disagree with Trump’s policies, particularly his singling out those of the Muslim faith.”

A report issued last February by DHS’s own inspector general found that all of the DHS pilot programs for using social media to screen immigration applicants “lack criteria for measuring performance to ensure they meet their objectives.”

“Although the pilots include some objectives, such as determining the effectiveness of an automated search tool and assessing data collection and dissemination procedures, it is not clear DHS is measuring and evaluating the pilots’ results to determine how well they are performing against set criteria,” the report reads.

This past May the administration had implemented a new questionnaire for use by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs requiring all visa applicants to disclose social media handles for the past five years, as well as biographical information going back 15 years.

Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s liberty and national security program, said this is yet another fad, started by the Obama administration, fueled by the belief that social media is going to help the U.S. stop an attack in the country.

“It’s very difficult to successfully use social media to determine what people are going or not going to do,” Patel told BuzzFeed News. “When you look at all the different ways in which we use communication tools, and social media is pretty different, very truncated. People use emojis, they use short form, sometimes it’s difficult to know what something means.”

The rule is slated to go into effect after the public comment period has ended.

Reporting by Brody Levesque for NCRM, Buzzfeed News, and Reuters

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

Image by Animated Heaven via Flickr and a CC license

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Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’

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Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows’ texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn’t want revealed were communications with his wife.

Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas’ 2020 election overthrow attempts.

Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions.

“Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component,” wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications.”

IN OTHER NEWS: GOP lawmaker leaves people baffled with his opinion of drug seizures

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called him to express concern that telling Americans that such an influential figure had gone full-Q. Cheney was worried it would turn the whole committee into a political sideshow and overshadow all of the other work the committee was doing. The release of Riggleman’s book has left the committee members furiousover possible leaks after spending a year with so few.

Riggleman persisted in pressing Cheney to tell Americans about the Thomases.

“The committee needed to show the American people that there was an organized, violent effort to reverse the election—and that there were indications it could have been directed by the White House,” he wrote. “Thanks to their prominence, Ginni and Clarence would make a lot of headlines, but those headlines might overwhelm the other important work we were doing.”

The conversation with Cheney didn’t go well, with the two “type A personalities” duking-out their arguments. Riggleman argued that data wasn’t political. It wasn’t right or wrong.

“I also thought that, given Clarence’s position and Ginni’s prominence in conservative circles, the American public had to know what she had been up to,” argued Riggleman. “Some of the messages went beyond simply cheering Meadows on. It was legitimate for me to have concerns as to whether a Supreme Court justice had been involved in the legally questionable push to overturn the election. Was it possible that one of the country’s nine top judges was on board with an authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution? The implications were overwhelming. Cheney found it all improbable. I think she still had more faith in the institutional GOP than I did at that point.”

Riggleman’s book, The Breach, is on sale now and Raw Story has complete coverage here.

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Trump Sarcastically Prayed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health – Before Asking ‘How Much Longer’ She Had: New Book

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Donald Trump has bragged about how installing Supreme Court justices was one of the greatest things a President can do. By the end of his one term he had placed three far right wing jurists on the nation’s highest court.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health was failing, Trump apparently was looking forward to nominating yet another justice to the bench.

The Washington Post, citing New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book, says Trump derisively prayed for the 87-year old liberal icon.

READ MORE: ‘We Have Incredible Things’: Trump Surprised NYT Reporter Last Year by Boasting He Kept White House Documents

“When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was dying in 2020, the book says, Trump would sarcastically raise his hands to the sky in prayer and say: ‘Please God. Please watch over her. Every life is precious,’ before asking an aide: ‘How much longer do you think she has?'”

Justice Ginsburg was far from the only woman Trump spoke ill of.

The Post reports “Trump was often crass and profane about world leaders and others in his orbit. He referred to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel as ‘that b—-,’ according to the book.”

READ MORE: Critics Blast Top US Conservative Think Tank President for Applauding Italy’s Election of ‘Neo-Fascist’ Prime Minister

When Trump met British Prime Minister Theresa May, he brought up the issue of abortion.

“Some people are pro-life, some people are pro-choice,” Trump said, according to Haberman’s book. “Imagine if some animals with tattoos raped your daughter and she got pregnant?” Trump reportedly asked.

Haberman’s book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” is 607 pages long and chronicles Trump’s time in the White House and in New York, going back as far as the 1980’s.

Among many other topics it also reveals Trump’s rarely discussed homophobia and transphobia. The Post says Haberman “reports [Trump] frequently made comments that were homophobic, particularly toward gay men, and washed his hands immediately after meeting someone who had AIDS.”

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Trump Uses Crude Anti-LGBTQ Language – Aides Stunned by Obsession With Staffers’ Sexuality: New Book

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Donald Trump often asked oddly personal questions about staffers’ sexuality and made homophobic remarks about those he perceived might be gay, according to a new book.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s forthcoming book, “The Decider,” reveals that Trump’s obsession with appearing to be masculine drives his startling behavior, such as a meeting early in his administration with vice president Mike Pence and campaign aide Jason Miller, whom he declared certainly “likes the ladies,” according to excerpts published by The Daily Beast.

“You know how sometimes someone turns out to be gay later and you knew?” Trump said, according to the book. “This guy, he isn’t even like one percent gay.”

Trump was preoccupied with speculation about who in his orbit might be gay, and often mocked Trump Organization executive Alan Marcus as “queer” and “bragged that he paid the executive less,” Haberman reported, and former employees said he would show off photos of women with whom he claimed to have know intimately.

“They also recalled Trump mocking gay men, or men who were seen as weak, with the words ‘queer’ or ‘f*ggot,’” Haberman wrote.

Haberman described one episode from a week before the second presidential debate in 2016, when then-adviser Reince Priebus asked Trump a hypothetical question from the point of view of a female transgender student about using the girls’ restroom — prompting a response that prompted stunned silence.

“C*cked or dec*cked?” Trump asked.

An unspecified individual broke the awkward silence by suggesting “dec*cked,” and Trump responded by making a chopping gesture.

“With c*ck or without c*ck?” he said, according to Haberman.

An adviser asked what difference that made, and Trump suggested that detail would determine how he answered the question.

“What if a girl was in the bathroom and someone came in, lifted up a skirt, and a schlong was hanging out?” Trump said, according to the book.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump is ‘quiet quitting’ special master case after making ‘terrible blunder’: legal expert

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